A&L alumna Becca Blais recognized as Notre Dame’s first Samvid Scholar

Author: Erin Blasko

The College of Arts & Letters alumna Becca Blais, a recent Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient for her work at the intersection of data science and politics, has been named a 2023 Samvid Scholar. She is Notre Dame’s first Samvid Scholar and one of just 20 members of this year’s cohort, which was selected from a pool of nearly 1,000 applicants.

Rebecca Blais
Rebecca Blais

Established in 2021, the Samvid Scholars Program empowers mission-driven graduate students with exceptional track records of impact to lead transformative change for society through leadership development, community, and financial support.

The award, underwritten by Samvid Ventures, covers tuition and fees up to $100,000, or $50,000 per year, for eligible graduate programs. Scholars engage in two years of leadership development, including in-person and online seminars, workshops, networking events, and an annual conference.

A 2018 Notre Dame graduate in political science and peace studies, Blais is co-founder and executive director of Bluebonnet Data, a nonprofit that recruits, trains, and organizes people with skills in coding and data science to form volunteer data teams for down-ballot political campaigns.

Along with fellow co-founder Nathán Goldberg, she was named to this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the category of consumer technology.

“The Samvid Scholarship is a game-changer for making graduate school more financially accessible for impact-focused students. I’m incredibly grateful for this opportunity to pursue an MBA at Stanford and further my abilities to make positive social change,” Blais said. “Thank you to the many friends, colleagues, and mentors who helped me get to this point!”

A 2017 Truman Scholar, Blais is currently pursuing a master’s degree in business administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

As an undergraduate, she was deeply involved in Notre Dame Student Government, serving as student body president and vice president, director of Internal Affairs, and a member of the Judicial Council.

She also traveled extensively. She accompanied a faculty delegation on a visit to a partner university in Bangladesh; participated in an immersion course in Ireland and, with the Center For Social Concerns, a summer service learning program in China; led a student group to West Virginia to build homes with Habitat for Humanity; and backpacked in India and Ireland.

Additionally, she volunteered at a local homeless shelter, worked as a notetaker for Sara Bea Accessibility Services and served as vice president of Be the Match on Campus, a nonprofit advocacy group for the national bone marrow donor registry.

Jeffrey Thibert, the Paul and Maureen Stefanick Director of the Flatley Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement at Notre Dame, recommended Blais for the Samvid.

“I’ve known Becca for over seven years now, and I am consistently impressed by what she has been able to achieve,” Thibert said. “How could I not be impressed? Truman Scholar, founding BlueBonnet, Forbes 30 Under 30, on her way to a Stanford MBA, Samvid Scholar ... it’s quite a trajectory.”

He continued, “But what’s impressed me even more is that she has always been an extraordinarily kind and compassionate person who keeps others at the center of her work. She exemplifies Notre Dame’s ideal of using her learning in service to justice, and I hope that our students can look to her as an example of what it’s possible to achieve with a sense of mission grounded in a moral orientation toward justice and driven by a recognition that making an extraordinary impact means making an extraordinary effort.”

For more on this and other scholarship opportunities, visit cuse.nd.edu.

Originally published by Erin Blasko at news.nd.edu on December 11, 2023.